These are some quick shots of the details of patches found on European armor. These may have been made to repair oringinal issues in manufacturing, damage in the working life, or to deal with the ravages of time later. Each will be characterized in an attempt to help understand when a patch was done, why and what it can tell us.

A working life patch in a burgonet.

Original 16th c. patch in armour Original 16th c. patch in armour   

Looking at a number of munition burgonets, it appears that the manufacturing method put a lot of stress on the area where the cheek plates were attached. We often find cracks here. In this case the cracks got bad enough that the armourer decided to stabilize the edge.

A working life patch in a morion.

Original 16th c. patch in armour Original 16th c. patch in armour   

The side of this morion cracked. I don't know whether this happened during construction or as a result of damage. Either way, someone fixed the problem with a large patch riveted into the helmet with a large number of rivets which secure the patch and stabilize the edges of the original metal of the helmet.

A modern patch in a close helmet skull

Modern welded patch on armour

This helmet was almost certainly used as a funerary achievement. When they did this, they would attach a spike to the skull of the helmet to secure a crest. Then the piece would hang up in the church and rust away for centuries. This often resulted in damage, esp. in the upper surfaces of the piece. In this case the hole must have gotten pretty big, and someone in the 20th c. welded in a patch to make the piece more presentable.

A set of modern patches in a close helmet

Modern riveted and brazed patches in a close helmet

This helmet has a number of patches. They are both riveted and brazed into the piece. There are cases where this type of patch may be a working life fix (esp. with very high copper content in the braze), but these do not appear to be from that time. These appear to be 19th or 20th c. fill and stabilization done as part of restoration of the piece for sale in the antique market. We can see a nice example of this in the front of the crest, and other (not quite as obvious) in the chin of the bevor.

A set of modern repairs on two gauntlets

modern soft metal patches to cracked corners of gauntlet finger plates.

Looking closely at these gauntlets we can see that the corners at the ends of the finger plates have suffered. In some cases we see major cracks in others we see a sort of dull appearance. The dull comes from soft metal - tin, tin/lead, or some similar solder used as a patch. This was somewhat common in the early 20th c. as a simple, low cost and low risk "repair" to make pieces look more complete and displayable.

A set of modern repairs on a gauntlet

patches in gauntlet plates

Modern riveted patches to the metacarpal plates of a gauntlet. In one case the patch secures two pieces that have separated completely, in other cases they fill in missing areas. Similar things were done in the working life of pieces, but these don't have the same character.

A set of modern repairs on a main pauldron plate

19th c. patches, done to extreme 19th c. patches done to extreme

This shows how far things can be taken. This kind of thing happened when really rotted pieces were "restored" in the 19th and early 20th c. We see a lot of this in surviving pieces from Rhodes, esp. those that went through Bachereau's hands. This is particularly bad. In this case the patches cover a large portion of the material of the piece. Worse yet, they don't reflect the original shape of the piece. Patches entirely re-work the shape of the portion that would have interacted with the upper arm, and there is no way to know exactly what the original shape of the front portion might have been. These patches are well executed, but very thin. If you look at the inside you can see that the patches have been embossed out to make the surface flush with the outer surface of the old material where it needs to fill a hole or gap.

A modern repair on one of a pair of elbows

20th c. patch in one elbow 20th c. patch in one elbow   

This seems to be a very nicely done modern repair. The goal was to stabilize the piece while preserving as much of the original as possible. The center of one elbow seems to have rusted through along the flutes, so a patch was inserted to stabilize the remaining central bit and fill the cracks.

If you have any questions, please send them to Wade Allen